Everyone in marketing talks about the Super Bowl leading up to and after the game, and while I hate to add to the clutter, I have to get a few things off my chest. I want to quickly share my POV about some well-worn marketing perspectives and the big game:
YES, THE INVESTMENT IS WORTH IT
We deal with a cluttered marketing environment and it’s nearly impossible to guarantee someone will see your ad on TV, OOH or digital. You’re guaranteed a broad audience on the Super Bowl, so it’s worth the premium for nearly every brand If:
You have a reasonable marketing budget for TV. That means you’re not spending over 30% of your marketing dollars on one day. If your budget is too small, you’re probably killing your business by driving too much traffic in a short period anyway and the inability to fulfill demand will cause more damage to your company than the increased profile is worth. Plus, if you are willing to spend such a large proportion of your budget for one execution, you should be fired anyway.
You make plans around the spot appropriate to the expenditure. That means you’re making sure website, customer service and retail or fulfillment is all ready for the rush. You carry the idea through the line, invest in digital to extend the idea and have enough money to run the ad past the game so you actually have a campaign and not a blip on the radar screen. More then likely, you can run a lighter TV schedule than usual since the ad should have good recall. (Side note here, campaigns that are integrated across digital and traditional mediums perform 43% better).
Included in this is the ability to actually leverage a celebrity past a single day. Don’t spend millions for :30 of a famous person on film.
You have a good brief. Strategy is almost half the battle in advertising and marketing, so a smart succinct and singular brief will get you good work. You have :30 to make a point, so focus on communicating that point. Creativity is paramount in Super Bowl advertising, so don’t hamstring your agency with a bad brief.
You don’t act desperate. If the idea that “this is the biggest investment we’ve ever made soohmygodithastowork” crossed your mind when approving the Super Bowl campaign, you’re desperate. You’re a marketing professional, so act professional and know this is a battle, not the war.
You don’t over do it. The best ads aren’t the ones over the top, but the ones that are well-executed with focus, a balance of product/concept, and have an appropriate level of investment in the production values. Good marketing is like cooking. You have to maintain a good balance and figure out the right moment to spice things up.
And with those five words of advice, my top 5 Super Bowl ads and a two-sentence review:
#5 Chevy, “Little Bit of Country, Little Bit of Rock and Roll”
This spot nails the target insight, broadens the customer base and it executed brilliantly. Bonus points for not being made specifically for the Super Bowl, but run in a premium ad slot.
#4 Bud Light/Game of Thrones
As a marketer who knows when brands influence culture they sell more, I love the “Dilly Dilly” campaign, but as a beer marketer, I hate it as a lazy gag to sell a cheap product. It’s been around for a while and a subpar Super Bowl ad might have killed its cultural credibility, but the mashup with Game of Thrones was a brilliant piece of buzz-worthy work that will pay off until the show comes back on in 2027. Tip of the cap to the person who made the partnership happen.
This is a brand that could easily spent time overthinking and overstrategizing a complex product that everyone should think about using. The idea “in a world full of fear, home should be anything but” is insightful, poetic and brilliant, but most importantly, on the website and all over digital as people start to think more about internet security.
#2 Amazon Alexa, “Harrison Ford”
Funny, disarming and buzz-worthy. It also shows a real product benefit while taking on the historical screw ups of Alexa in an interesting way. (But I’m still not putting one of those things in my house.)
1/ NFL Anniversary
The biggest, glitziest and best-produced ad for the company that put on the biggest, glitziest and best-produced game. This is a love letter to football with current stars, past stars and a million little subtle things that hardcore fans appreciate, but without heading into “Just Do It” territory.